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What Does Zzz Mean?

  • Zzz is an onomatopoeic representation of snoring.
  • Zzz is commonly used in comic books to indicate that someone is sleeping.
  • It has also become a part of the idiom catch some Zs, which means to sleep.

Have you ever wondered why people say they’re going to catch some Zs when they want to go to sleep? Well, if you’re into comic books, you might already know the reason.

The Meaning of Zzz

Zzz is an onomatopoeic representation of snoring. It was commonly used in media where sound effects were not an option, notably in comic books. That’s where it got its association with sleeping, even though it wasn’t the only device used to symbolize snoring.

A person under the covers asleep in bed with overlaid text that says: ZZZ.

It’s unclear why zzz came to represent snoring. Henry David Thoreau was the first writer to represent nonvocal sounds with the letter Z, but he was writing about the sound of crickets, not snoring.

How to Use Zzz

There are no firm rules about capitalizing zzz. Some people might put in all caps, some might capitalize it like an ordinary word, and some might capitalize only the middle Z. It’s hard to see a reason to use zzz in formal writing. Even the phrase “catching some Zs” seems more at home in informal conversations than in formal ones.


There was a steady stream of zzz coming from the parents’ room.
Did I tell you about the dream I had yesterday? zzz…
This article will have to wait until I catch some Zs.

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